Panto – ‘There’s nothing like it in the world’
- Credit: Mark Bullimore
This year's Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime is a homecoming for Joe Tracini. The TV and stage star is set to play Buttons in the county where he was born over the festive season 2019/20, he tells John Bultitude.
There is no doubt that Joe Tracini is the Duracell battery of light entertainment. Chatty, chirpy and charming, he exudes energy and loves the opportunity to put a smile on everyone's face.
And that excitement is just ramped up for him as he prepares to star as Buttons in this year's Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime, Cinderella. He will share the spotlight with stage and TV favourites Amanda Henderson (Robyn in Casualty, Oliver! in the West End) and David Witts (Joey Branning in EastEnders, Fiyero in Wicked) as well as Norwich's panto favourite Richard Gauntlett as part of the star cast.
And it was the chance to share the stage with Richard that helped prompt Joe to say yes to the role. "I have wanted to work with him for such a long time and we have been texting," he says. "It is more like I text an idea to Richard, he doesn't get back to me and then at some point, I will just get his script and I will do what he says."
It is also the opportunity to be part of a show which is a key part of the calendar for many people across the region. "I think that panto is so important in this country because it doesn't really work anywhere else," explains Joe. "People have tried. It is such a part of our culture. It is an art form and it is always going to be the introduction to theatre for a lot of people. I think there is nothing like it in the world and it is hard work but it is nice to be part of people's Christmas."
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And the Norwich panto will be a home-coming for the actor and performer, who was born at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston, near Great Yarmouth, and lived in the Yarmouth area until the age of three.
Showbiz is definitely in his blood as his father is Joe Pasquale. "I grew up watching my dad and seen him be an idiot for life. That was quite a good training ground to be an idiot for life. Dad is fine with me being one," Joe laughs.
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He started off his performing career as a professional magician becoming a British champion by the age of 15 and entertaining was something he always loved doing.
Joe is no stranger to the stage appearing in the comedy hit Spamalot, and is also known for his TV work including the BBC3 show Coming Of Age, CBBC's The Dengineers and playing Dennis Savage, a character specifically created for him, in Channel Four soap Hollyoaks.
Joe is already speculating about the routines and fun he will be having on stage with the Cinderella cast this Christmas in Norwich. Oh yes he will! u
Cinderella runs from Tuesday, December 17, 2019 to Sunday, January 19, 2020. Tickets cost £10-£25, with discounts for over-60s, under-18s, groups and schools. To book, log onto www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 630000.